Now and then... a story crossing generations - by Alvin Howell
London is the host to many communities and Brixton in particular has a link with the Ras Tafarian movement.
The Community Trust has many links with this community but our closest one is with Alvin Howell – our volunteer cook for probation and the Friday Night Supper.
Alvin Howell is also a writer… and a thinker. His poetry hangs on the wall of the Centre, his words hang on the lips of our clients.
NOW: Alvin Howell
Knowing that my ancestor was a great speaker and helped motivate a lot of people inspired me to start writing poetry which has helped me a lot as I am not one to speak out all the time – but my poetry helps me do that and I hope it helps to inspire other people too (which it has previously)… I’ve even had people ask me to write a piece, so that they can put on their relative’s grave stone.
I will continue to write my poetry so I can inspire more people, here are some of my poetry titles: DARK CLOUD, I CAN BE ME, POEM FOR MY MOTHER AND I SPEAK.
I will also be writing my poetry book which hopefully will be ready by the end of the year, it will be titled: MY THOUGHTS… (by Alvin Howell) – so keep a look out for it!
THEN: Leonard Percival Howell
Leonard Percival Howell is part of my ancestry, which I only discovered about 10 years ago when my sister had a book and told me that he is part of our family tree on my dads side.
He was one of the first to start the Rasta Movement which took him around the world, Leonard Percival Howell was born in the Parish of Clarendon, Jamaica. W.I. On June 16th, 1898. He died in Kingston, Jamaica. W.I. In 1981. He was born a hero, a scholar and beyond the shadow of a doubt died a hero defending his race. His parents Thomas and Clementina Howell, who were independent farmers and business owners, motivated their son Leonard to travel. In the 1920’s he left Jamaica on a ship to the United States of America, where he advanced his intellect and academic skills.
Howell became the most successful teacher of Rastafari doctrine. He enjoined black people to be PROUD of heritage and culture, to have their own “Money” Banks, be self-motivated, strong, self-sufficient, where black economies would triumph and to hold high the value of education. Furthermore, he preached to show respect, love and honor. He said, “The white mans doctrine has forced the black man to forsake silver and gold and seek heaven after death. It has brought us to live in disgrace and die in dishonor”.
Despite the fact that Howell became the most persecuted man in the history of Jamaica, he must be credited for purchasing over 500 acres of Land at Sligoville, in St. Catherine became known as PINNACLE. It was the center of the Rastafarian Movement, the first free slave, self sufficient and economically empowered African village in Jamaica (an historical move) Many generation of African slaves , in the thousand , came from rural and urban Jamaica settled on the land and made their vision a reality. They lived a natural way of life, in harmony with the universe, showed love and peace to all race and color, lived in unity, worked collectively, upheld culture, heritage, freedom and justice. Many who were farmers planted organic food, others who were skilled in arts and craft made household items. In addition: herbal medicine, roots, tonics and other produces were supplied and sold to the local government, private and public sectors.
Howell was a man of great vision, and mystic spirituality. He created codes and principles based on the teaching of His Imperial Majesty, Haile Selassie I and developed the Nyahbinghi Order (a mystical religious order) that defined “death” by the Divine Creator to the blacks and white oppressors. Years later Howell formed “The Ethiopian Salvation Society”
Before his death in 1981 Howell once said:
” I am convinced that the children we are teaching today, will become vanguards and guardians to our freedom tomorrow and better citizens to defend our democracy and to ensure that generations to come will learn from the Holocaust of slavery, and keep the flame of remembrance burning. Help them to understand more about the past, that our history NEVER repeats itself so that we can create a better future for all human race.”
The Community Trust likes to remember the words of others and to acknowledge the part they played in creating the building bricks of our diverse and harmonious community. When members of our community held an Emancipation Day Family Rally walking from Windrush Square to Kennington Park on Saturday 1st August 2015 the Trust were there to help them out with their banner making and seating arrangements.
Everyone needs to reflect on the words of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie I: “Throughout history it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph.”
As relevant today as to all our yesterdays….